The Little Ford Ranger Raptor Has Humble Goal For Dakar
Ford is about as storied a company as we have here in America. The classic marque has competed in damn near every racing event in the world and won many of them. However, Ford doesn’t have a Dakar win. Although this feels hard to believe, it’s true. Ford is officially backing a Ford Ranger Raptor Dakar entry with full factory support for this January. While the it fully intends to get a trophy eventually, Ford’s goal this time is simply to finish one of the toughest races on Earth.
Has Ford ever won Dakar?
According to Autoblog, this is Ford’s first entry into the Dakar race. Refreshingly, Ford’s official stance on the inaugural entry is to “finish and learn.” Despite the Oval’s humility, you better believe Ford is trying to win.
While this is Ford’s first official foray into the coolest off-road race in the world, a lone Ford Ranger did compete in 2014. However, this was a regional team with no factory support or training. Again, this is only the first attempt. Ford is already planning for Dakar 2025.
What do you need to finish Dakar in a Ford Ranger?
Ford Performance will be backing a Ford Ranger Raptor competing in the top-tier T1+ category. Make no mistake; Ford is jumping into the deep end here. T1+ is the category that Nasser Al-Attiyah and Sebastien Loeb drove in to win the overall victory last year. Considering this is the prototype class, the Ranger Raptor that gets set loose on the sand will likely have very little to do with the production Ranger Raptor we know.
In order to truly compete in something like Dakar, Ford will need some serious muscle. Neil Woolridge Motorsport, or NWM, is the first partner signed on. This is the same team that developed the 2014 Ford Ranger entry. NWM will oversee the initial development of the truck, according to Motor1. This work has already been going on for a few years. While the development of this Dakar Ranger Raptor wasn’t a secret, Ford getting involved is a major turn of events.
The other major partner will be M-Sport, Malcolm Wilson’s shop behind Ford’s World Rally Championship attempts for over two decades. “M-Sport has been a long-term partner for us. They’ve got great experience in designing and engineering vehicles… But they also know how to build service and support trucks, and that’s what we need to be successful,” Ford’s Mark Rushbrook said.
The Ford Ranger is no stranger to the podium
Seeing as Ford’s main goal here is to “finish and learn,” competitors next or maybe the following year might need to prepare themselves for the Oval. The Ranger has already proven itself in the Baja 1000, and as noted by Motor1, a class win only last week at Australia’s Finke Desert Race.
Other Ford 4×4 platforms have also proven themselves in off-road events, like the Ford Bronco dominating King of the Hammers in various configurations and classes.
Who will race the Ford Ranger Raptor in the 2024 Dakar?
Ford officials haven’t announced a driver lineup yet. A decorated Dakar winner named Nani Roma was involved in testing the trucks. However, M-Sport’s Malcolm Wilson says there is a long list of interested drivers, particularly from the WRC, who want a shot at Dakar.